THE GOOD ~ THE BAD AND TMI
In the last twenty-four hours I have had one terrific experience with an online encounter and one scary one.
I went to Philadelphia yesterday to do The 10 Show at NBC this morning and tape Marilyn Russsell Show on WBEN-FM. These were arranged for me by Arlene Leib a woman I met on Facebook.
Arlene reached out to me after reading my book. We became Facebook friends, though more active than the usual, now we are friends and you proceed to forget the person entirely. Arlene is bubbly and engaged. We had similar interests. She started following the blog, a sure way to worm your way into my heart
Arlene is also in PR. When the paperback came out she asked what I was doing. I said “Not much. I kind of shot my wad on the hardback and with a paperback there is not a lot to do. But, if you can round up any interest for me in Philly, I’m there.” And off she went get me some gigs.
We met last night for drinks and dinner and it was the proverbial we felt like we had known each other for years. The upside of life online.
But – How much of our lives should be online? How much private information should we let out there?
There is a site called Foursquare. Many of you know about it. It’s a place where you check in when you arrive in a bar, a store, a city, a hotel, a park. It’s supposed to allow your friends to find you and I guess, a place to show up and sometimes show off. It’s no different than the FACEBOOK check-in App now used. Look where I am.
I remember when it first came out Taylor and her friends were on it, I said “Stay away, it’s a stalkers paradise.”
But wouldn’t you know somehow, ole there isn’t a site I don’t sign up for these days me gets an account. And I start checking in. When I travel, when I go to Jack’s Coffee, at Whole Foods. Why? I have no idea. It’s an easy way of Tweeting, something I forget to do.
Last night I came home from dinner and went right to sleep.
At 11:15 the hotel room phone rang. A slight aside, anyone who knows me and has received a note knows, my handwriting is much like my spelling, not good. People are always asking what I wrote. So when woken from deep slumber, hearing a male voice say they were from the hotel and were checking something, I don’t remember what; but I thought it was room service trying to decipher what time I wanted my coffee brought up. So I told them it was me, and I verified my room number. The person then said they were Steve from downstairs and they had many complaints about the loud noises coming from my room. I said, “You have the wrong person I’m sound asleep.” They got hostile and said no it was me, my room, everyone was complaining, there were lights flashing under the door and I was smoking marijuana and was smelling up the hallways and it was going to take weeks to get the smell out of my room. I said “You’re really mistaken. They said, “No it is you.”
I really believed it was the hotel. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to talk sense to people who don’t get it, so I tend to get into debates when I should hang up. So true to me I said, “First off, I’m sound asleep, you’re welcome to come up and check and secondly I have not touched grass for thirty years. TMI. Blessedly, I didn’t tell them I wouldn’t even get high with Hunter Thompson six years ago.
They got really riled and said “It’s you. You must stop and you have a snippy attitude. I said “You wake me up to tell me I’m making noise and getting high and I’m snippy. Get me the manager.” He said “I’m the manger.” I said “Send up security then, you will see I’m in bed asleep.” “If we send up security you will be evicted from the hotel.” Then I knew something was not right. I said “Fine. Send them up and evict me. I’m calling corporate and reporting abuse in the morning.” then I hung up.
Something was wrong. I called the front desk and asked to speak to Steve.
“ No Steve works here”
I then told them the story. They were appalled, apologetic and concerned.
They checked the phone log. Someone had called and asked for my room, they said they told them what they tell all people who call late, “It’s 11:15 here are you sure you want us to put this through?” The other party said yes. Their number was blocked. No way of finding out who it might be.
The hotel offered to send up tea to help me get back to sleep. I declined. I was nervous at that point. I didn’t feel safe. They said they would put up a DO NOT DISTURB on my door and security would patrol outside my room all night.
I thanked them and sat in the dark pondering this. Who knew where I was? My family, my office, Arlene and my travel agent.
Oh right and when I got to the hotel, I went on Foursquare and checked in Tracey Jackson is at The Four Seasons in Philadelphia. As I did it I had a second thought. But I have done this at hotels a lot lately. I was the mayor of the Pulitzer in Amsterdam for a week. The kind of corny, ego massaging extras the site gives you in exchange for broadcasting your every move.
Of course, it had to be some connection from Foursquare. And lately I have been less cautious about who I have allowed to be my friend on the site. I don’t know many of the people.
I warned my daughter but here I was letting the world know where I was. Do people, much less complete strangers need to know when I go to the gym, the market, or check into a hotel? When is enough, enough? And what creep is stalking me to the point they would call my hotel in the middle of the night and harass me?
The whole thing scared the shit out of me.
Was that the point?
TMI – no question. My fault – no question.
The first thing I did when I got home was delete my Foursquare account.
The first thing I did this am was message Taylor, get off Foursquare, it’s not safe.
With the Internet came Big Brother and sometimes like in the case of Arlene he’s a good thing. But when he starts harassing you for no reason because there is too much personal information about you out there, it’s time to put on the brakes.